Kirsty Wilson is Text’s Sales & Marketing Director. Kirsty started with Text in 2005 and has been an essential part of the company ever since. We sat her down and talked about changes in publishing over the years, working in UK antiquarian bookstores and why yellow vans are a great place to read a book in.
What was the book that got you hooked on reading?
Impossible to narrow in on one, but anything in which kids ran away from home made me pretty excited in junior primary school. Later in primary, Thurley Fowler’s The Green Wind and the ubiquitous Anne of Green Gables got my vote. But the book I claimed as the best of my childhood was Nadia Wheatley’s The House that Was Eureka: a novel about Depression-era Sydney and people and power. We republished it as a Text Classic four years ago and I couldn’t get over how impressed my twelve-year-old self would be with me.
How did you get into publishing?
I worked in bookshops from when I was sixteen, in Bendigo and Melbourne, then sold antiquarian books in London, dealing in everything from handwritten letters by Tolkien and sheet music by Beethoven, to early edition Bronte/Bell novels and first-edition Harry Potters. Back home I got an admin job at the State Library of Victoria and wound up running a terrific literary touring program for the SLV, taking writers to regional cities and towns. The authors whose works I enjoyed most on the program all seemed to come from Text, so when a job came up here for a publicist I jumped on it. That was nearly thirteen years ago.
How long have you been working in the publishing industry and what are the biggest changes?
About twelve years in publishing, but twenty-four in the wider book industry. The development of ebooks and metadata, and the emphasis on an effective website and social media are the biggest changes—but fundamentally the task of publishing people remains the same: to unearth great books and help their authors find the biggest readership we can.
What do you find exciting about sales & marketing?
I’m an excitable person so I get enthused about everything from a spreadsheet of insightful data to a well-written sales pitch. But it’s the relationships with authors, booksellers, media and other publishing companies that make the job a joy. We’re a pack of nerds, still thrilled that we get to read and discuss books for a living, and the generosity and sense of collaboration across the industry is really quite amazing.
Where is your favourite place to read?
When I was a kid it was the front seat of my parents’ yellow van: it was the only place to get some peace from my three sisters, and in winter I’d tuck up in the warmth there all afternoon drinking sugary black Nescafé and devouring novels. (I was all of eleven: with all that caffeine it’s no wonder I turned out five foot nothing.) These days I still love reading anywhere quiet and warm: bed, bath, couch, lawn.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in publishing?
The obvious advice is to read as widely as possible and volunteer for or attend festivals or events, so you get a sense of who’s who and how things hang together. But to this I’d add that knowledge of the digital sphere is still quite rare, and incredibly useful. If you’ve bought and read some ebooks, know the main eretailers and what metadata means, and you have a sense of how ebooks are produced, marketed and sold, those insights may make you stand out from ninety-nine per cent of the other candidates for a given role. Knowledge and experience in any sector of the publishing industry—production, editorial, finance, marketing, publicity, rights—is fantastic, but add to that an understanding of digital publishing and it can make you a very appealing potential employee, who shows they think bigger than the traditional printed word.